Immigration
"Berrien County, Michigan, USA"
The Early Years


They came by ship from across the seas; and sometimes, first landing in Nova Scotia or Canada, they arrived by boats, horseback and/or wagons to get to a promised land. Between 1820 and 1892 (before Ellis Island opened), there were over 11 million immigrants looking for a place to put down roots and call their own.
CastleGarden.org has a great research site.

Many immigrants settled in regions that reminded them of their homelands, whether it it be the landscape or the climate. Others would momentarily stay at the first place they landed, and then move on to where U.S. territories gave promises and offerings of low land prices for their own. States and "wanna be states" [territories] often offered incentives to get a larger population within the area; so in turn they could gain access to stronger voting rights, or would be qualified for statehood.

In numerous cases, whole families came to escape unfavorable conditions in old homelands; with initially one family member coming over to settle his "piece of paradise". He would then send for his family. Letters were written to family and friends telling them of this new and promising land, at which time those waiting would follow. Whole villages might have the greatest portion of their inhabitants related by family or friendship; thus, churches and schools were based on the practices of belief they had lived by in the old country.

Becomming a Citizen:
There were two forms that an immigrant would register for when seeking citizenship. (Note- wives normally didn't have to register) This is long before women got the vote..etc. Once they married and husband was a citizen, they were also considered to be a citizen.

Declaration of Intent

This was a document that a prospective US citizen would fill out with the local government officials. This declared that intentions were honorable and plans were in motion for becoming a Citizen of the United States. In the early days of immigration, this was the final step that some ever filled out as there weren't any laws enforcing Naturalization.
Most of these were quite simple forms and might not show the county or state within a county that the immigrant had departed from. It might just show: Germany, Ireland or England etc.

Naturalization Citizenship 

This was the final step in becoming a United States Citizen. The same guidelines, processes and regulations that are in existence today were not in effect in the 18th and 19th centuries. Normally a couple of law biding citizens of that county would attest for the candidate and it would be stated that he had lived in the area for at least one year; and took an Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America in said county and state of residence.

Naturalization Definitions on Census Reports
AL - Born abroad, and has taken no steps toward becoming an American citizen. = ALIEN
Pa - Declared intention to become an American Citizen and has taken out his "first" papers. = Papers
Na - Has become a full citizen by taking out second or final papers of naturalization -NATURALIZED

Examples
Below are examples of the Declartion of Intent, Naturalization and an Index of Declaration of Intent and Naturalization
Examples sent to us by William Brackett
For a larger view, click on image

John Bunbury
Declaration of Intent
Declaration
George Cain
Declartion of Intent
Declaration
Patrick Fitzgerald
Declaration of Intent
Declaration
Christian Boile
Declaration of Intent
Naturalized

George Cain
Naturalization (Citizenship) pg 1
Citizenship
George Cain
Naturalization (Citizenship) pg 2
Page 2
John Bunbury
Naturalization pg 1
Naturalization
John Bunbury
Naturalization pg 2
citizen

Index to Declaration of Intent & Naturalization
Page 1
index
Index to Declaration of Intent & Naturalization
Page 2
Index

Other Link(s) for Researching
National Archives, - Great Lakes Region

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